140 -Encouragement vs Appreciation

Hello and welcome to the The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.

I’m your host Tucker and this week is another semantic exploration. This time about encouragement and appreciation. 

I’ve recently been noticing something about my songwriting skills and how people react when I talk to them. 

I’ve been writing songs on and off for about 25 years. Way back when I started I could write a song a day for a week or so. It eventually slowed to a more manageable pace of about one a week. Then long lapses of nothing. Not writers block. I just did other things and didn’t focus on songwriting. 

When I first started playing my songs for people they would be very encouraging. “Wow, I didn’t know you could write songs” “Very nice, you’ll be a big star someday.” “Very good. You should keep it up for sure.” I attended songwriters groups and got more encouragement. I would go to open stages and get applause and comments how they enjoyed my songs. Each time was a little crumb of encouragement. Another little morsel of success that would keep me going, keep me writing. 

Then one day I noticed something, the comments changed they started to get more specific. “I really liked that chord progression.” “That lyric in the bridge was really good.” Obviously, these were songwriters making these comments not just random pub patrons. But the crumbs were bigger. They were juicier. I could take things away from these comments and build on them in other songs. 

Now because I kept working I kept getting better. We’ve talked about this before. Keep doing it and keep making things a little better each time. I became more confident in my skills. That may be part of the point I’m going to get to eventually. 

So. The crumbs of encouragement kept me going. Kept me moving forward. But in my head everyone else was still better than me. More accomplished than me. More talented than me. Then, one day they weren’t. They didn’t treat me like the kid in the corner. They weren’t encouraging they were appreciating. My sense was that they took my work on the same level as theirs. Then I saw other people come along and I found myself being encouraging. I could see where their skills were lacking. The structure of a song was off. Their rhyme scheme or their meter was off in places but I could see the solid idea they were trying to get into the song. I found myself at the next level. My skills were stronger but I could see that with a little perseverance they would soon be talents I was appreciating rather than encouraging. 

This is where I’m sure I could become conceited. I can start to get arrogant. I could look down on those folks and giggle at their attempts at songs. I could tell them their stuff was cute or whatever other condescending thing I could offer to keep them at the level they were at. But that would mean I would have to be scared of something in them. I would have to be afraid that they would get better than me. Afraid that where I was in my skills was as good as I was going to get and that these people could surpass me somehow. That’s always going to be the case. Someone will always be better than you. 

My point - told you I’d get there eventually - is that now when I perform or just play a song for someone I get a different response again. While before I would get applause and appreciation now people give their head a little shake and shake my hand very solidly and tell me that a song was “ eautiful". Or “georgous” or tell me I’m an “Extremely talented songwriter.” People have approached me as a co-writing partner. People have approached me to for my songs so they can perform them on their own albums. Now, I’m not talking about Top 10 hitmakers or anything. And I’m trying desperately not to sound like I’m bragging. I mean if I went down to Nashville to write I’d be a nobody. I’d probably start getting encouragement again and have to work back up to getting appreciation. But now I’d be able to see the different stages and know what to expect.

I’m not sure what the next thing I need to do with my songwriting skills are now but I’m excited to experiment with a few different paths and see what happens. 

Here's where you get to do some thinking:

  • Where do you feel like you are?
  • Are people encouraging you?
  • Are people offering ways for you to improve?
  • Are people appreciating your work?
  • Do you feel like you have the skills just not the ability to fully execute with them?
  • If you feel like you’ve been at a certain level for a while - what are somethings you can do to move forward?
  • Is there a mentor or collaborator you can approach?
  • Is there a course you can take in specific skill to take you to the next level? 

Get me on twitter @sparkartpodcast and as always if you happen to like what you hear and are in the mood to leave an honest review and star rating it would be incredibly helpful for getting the how found by other creative who need a little encouragement along the way. 


Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark.